700 homes plan for Godmanchester ‘won’t impact on A14,’ say developers

DEVELOPERS behind a controversial bid to build more than 700 homes in Godmanchester say their latest proposals will NOT increase traffic on the already congested A14.

Development company The Fairfield Partnership claim they have come up with a way to counter-balance the traffic created by the development at Bearscroft Farm, by subsidising bus journeys and creating a new service to the Guided Bus Park and Ride in St Ives.

Fears the site, which would expand Godmanchester by a third, would put “unacceptable” pressure on infrastructure and roads in and around the town, were dismissed.

Community leaders are calling for any development to be scrapped in light of a potential influx of homes at Alconbury Airfield, or to be postponed until the A14 is upgrading.

A petition started on Friday by Huntingdonshire District Councillor Peter Godley against the plans has already attracted 60 signatures.

But Stephen Biart, strategic land director for Marchfield Management, a subsidiary of The Fairfield Partnership, said pinning hopes on Alconbury, which was named last month as a Government-backed Enterprise Zone were unrealistic.

“Alconbury is a wing and a prayer, it is a hope for the future. If I compare the two sites, Alconbury, comparatively, is in the middle of nowhere.

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“This is a commitment. It is in the core strategy. That is the document against which applications are supposed to be judged and that shows growth for this part of Godmanchester.

“I don’t see how a site not in the plan can take precedence over one that is.”

The Core Strategy Development Plan Document, adopted by Huntingdonshire District Council in 2009, identifies Bearscroft Farm as suitable for mixed use development.

Plans are to create 700 homes, businesses, a primary school, retail space, children’s play and amenity area and recreational space on the 106-acre site.

But government inspector Eric Searle said the development must demonstrate ‘nil detriment’ to the A14.

Mr Biart said: “Since the inspector’s report, we have been negotiating and discussing matters with HDC and CCC, and we believe we have a way forward.”

But Godmanchester Town Councillor Nigel Pauley said the plans would cause further gridlocks and traffic chaos.

“In my lifetime I have seen Godmanchester grow from a thriving agricultural-based small town of under 2,000 to one with a population of 6,000, and yet the basic infrastructure has remained the same.

“We’re not being Nimbys here, we are merely asking planners and developers to play fair and not keep changing the goal posts.

“We are the ones who will have to live with the misery they inflict – while they move onto their next money-spinning deal.”

Earlier this year 26 families had to battle for places for their children in the local primary schools, and protestors say the site will put extra pressure on those schools.

Cllr Godley added: “It is the wrong place for the development and the wrong time, mainly because of the A14 and the extra traffic that it will impose on Godmanchester.

“This new development will be a carbuncle on the side of Godmanchester. To increase the town by a third is unacceptable.”

An exhibition on the plans will be held at Godmanchester Primary School Hall in Park Lane on Friday, September 23 from 11am to 8pm, and on Saturday, September 24 from 11am to 4pm.

Protestors can sign an epetition against the plans by going to http://applications.huntsdc.gov.uk/moderngov/mgEPetitionDisplay.aspx?